Hello everyone, this is my first time posting here in this forum. I have been trying to figure out what's been going on with me and am hoping some of you might be able to point me in the right direction based on your experiences.
I am married 5 years and have a wonderful daughter who is 3. I am 32, and since the age of about 25 it seems that I really cannot be happy about anything. I never get excited about things. I really don't care if I have friends or not. I could be happy being totally isolated although I know that would hurt me, so I fight it and try to keep 1 or 2 friends and get out every now and then. I go through mood swings where I will be happy and energetic at one point and then depressed and lethargic the next. I am an all or nothing type of person. I either am working like a crazed lunatic or I can't get my butt off the couch. I am either feeling very intelligent and articulate or feeling like a complete idiot and unable to speak 2 sentences. I have always had a pretty poor self-esteem and feel my friends really could care less about what is going on with me. I am relatively smart, very very right-brained and creative, but lack the motivation to really get things moving along in my life. I don't motivate easily because I feel like I won't be able to carry myself through or I will fail. Sometimes I feel like I have no feelings,like I could care less about everything and everyone, but other times I can cry over the stupidest things. I feel like I am in this constant circle of stagnation.. where the times I feel uplifted, I might actually be able to do some positive things for myself and others but then soon after, I become negative and very unmotivated. I get angry over little things that aren't going my way or I am entirely to understanding. I sometimes feel like I am the most selfish person on earth. Other times i feel like I give way to much to others to a point where I can be taken advantage of. Like I said, it's all or nothing for me.. One extreme or the other. The inbetweens are there, but not often enough. Sometimes if I am alone for a few days, I could easily go the entire time without leaving the house, without eating much, w/o sleeping much and just sitting around. Right now I am the opposite and am at the gym for an hour a day and in the best shape of my life and eating like a fitness pro. I have no problem engaging in self-destructive behavior at certain times. I have contemplated suicide on a number of occasions, but could NEVER go thru with it because of my family. I also feel like I am controlling and manipulative at certain times which I hate so much.
My uncle and grandmother (Dad's side of the family) had some type of social disorder, but it was never talked about in my family. My parents tell me my uncle was/is schizophrenic, but I don't know that the really know. My grandma and uncle were similar to me from what I could see. I didn't have strong relationships with them at all. They both just sort of holed up in their homes, never really talked to anyone and just kind of seemed a bit off. They were pleasant the few times I was around them, just never saw much of them. (My uncle lived right across the street from us and only once out of every x-mas and thanksgiving was he ever around.) My dad is similar as well, but he would probably never admit he has any social type anxieties. He is to proud to admit weakness. He is more like me I guess and seems to force himself to go against those desires to isolate and shut down. He always told me how happy he'd be to go and live it in the woods in the middle of BFE.
I am unsure how to go about solving this. I am afraid to go to a doc, because I don't want to be mis-diagnosed and end on drugs that won't help me. I am sort of afraid to be helped, because I don't even know if I can deal with it. I really don't want to be on any type of drug. I have heard to many horror stories and I despise the pharmaceutical industry. I do smoke weed which seems to really help me get in between the extreme mood swings, but I don't know that I want to continue smoking it. I am most concerned about my wife and daughter. I don't want to raise my daugher to be like me. I don't know if this type of behavior I experience has a genetic cause or if it's a learned behavior. My grandmother raised my father and uncle. I was raised by my mother and sometimes I feel like even she experiences similar feelings and I am currently the primary caretaker of my daughther right now. My daughter is such a good kid, I couldn't bare for her to grow up feeling like I do. I couldn't bare to know that I could cause her to go through this. When my wife first knew she was pregnant, I wanted to abort out of fear that my daughter would end up like me.
I know this has been a long read and I deeply appreciate anyone who reads it and might have some suggestions. Like I said, I don't know what I am experiencing or what is the cause, I guess I just want to get a better idea of what types of disorders carry these symptoms so I can atleast get some information about it so I can make some good informed decisions. From what I've read, bipolar is the closest I can come up with. I suppose I could just live with it like my Dad, uncle and grandmother, but I owe it to my wife and daughter to give them the best I can.
I read your post with interest. Sounds like you have 'insight', which is often missing in people with an undiagnosed/untreated major mental illness like bipolar disease. In other words, you seem to have a grip on the fact that you have a problem and are willing to seek help for yourself...a great thing. Even if the help you seek is from a message board...you are reaching out.
The best thing to do since you have the concerns you do, is to make an appointment with your primary medical doctor. Tell the doctor your concerns and let h/she decide if you need a referral to a psychiatrist and need to be on medication.
Be honest with the doctor and tell h/her about your mood swings. The good thing about major depression or bipolar illness is that it's treatable. Nothing to fear there. Your swings in mood can be controlled. Sometimes side effects to medications are bothersome and will make you want to not take the meds, but if you give the meds a fair shot, oftentimes the side effects lessen and are not as big a problem. You'll end up having way more "in-between" days in your life. Much better than the extreme swings in mood that you described.
If you want to feel better, which I'm sure you do, put your fears aside and seek medical treatment. Don't allow your pride to get in the way.
I'll be checking back to see if you got my post. Feel free to post back. No one has too many friends.
Another thought; you are a very high-functioning bipolar if you are bipolar. Your highs don't seem to get off in the realm of psychotic, and the lows don't lead to catatonic behavior. There are actually several type of bipolar disorder, Bipoolar I, II, hypomanic,Cyclothymic.
It might be helpful if you keep a record of your moods along with any information on what what going on, how long the mood lasted, etc.
And, wanting to refuse meds is pretty classic amongst bipolars so you'll get alot of people here who understand the feeling. But as I've said elsewhere, bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance and it DOES take chemicals to put it back into place.
Good luck, stop back and let us know where you're at on the journey to helping yourself lead a better life!!
[This message has been edited by HoosierBj (edited 08-18-2003).]
My thanks to the both of you for your suggestions, support and taking the time to listen. I am waiting for some insurance to kick in and then I will take the plunge and go see the doc. Iley you are right, I can't let my fear or pride get in the way of getting some help. I'll keep you posted.
Good for you! Do see the doc. Like someone in the posts above here said, most undiagnosed people don't really have a grip on what is going on. It took me half of my life to finally see that I needed to do something. I am deathly afraid of the side effects of the medication too but am trying to have a positive outlook--the side effects don't affect everyone so I might be worrying about nothing. In the meantime I will keep a close watch on my weight and my hair! <grin>
Mostly I just wanted to reply because a few of the things that you are going through rang so true with me. For instance, I don't give a darn about anything! It's not a conscious decision but I get excited over nothing anymore. Also, I would love to be a hermit. That is not very conducive to marriage which is causing some friction at the moment <g> I have exactly 1 friend who is not even a very deep friend. He is a functioning alcholic so our conversations don't often go beyond "want another beer" lol I avoid people at all costs--I don't know why--and never make friends.
So, what I am saying is there are others out there like you. You aren't alone. I wish I could tell you the meds do miracles (which they might) but I only started three days ago so am still waiting and hoping.